tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 30, 2014 4:30pm-6:31pm EDT
wonder if the conversation with his constituents in texas were like the conversations i have with my constituents in oregon, if people knew that we are spending eight times as much to incarcerate these people as if they were in other federal facilities. the gentleman from virginia talks about the space that is available now in terms of federal facilities. if they -- do people know that we have convicted hundreds of people suspected of terrorist acts and under the provisions none. military, what do our constituents really ant if they knew that fact? the sad truth is that americans are at greater risk because of our reckless behavior failing to
close this sad chapter. the vast majority of these people probably don't pose a risk and they certainly wouldn't pose a risk incarcerated in our maximum security facilities in the united states. but it's time to close this facility, to honor the rule of law, it strengthens our position internationally. it saves money. and it allows us to actually get some of these people who may be bad guys actually convicted. military tribunal doesn't work, our courts do. i hope we will step up, do the right thing, aprove this amendment and give mr. moran a growing a -- a going away present. i yield back.
the chair: the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the noes have it. the amendment is not agreed. the gentleman from oregon. mr. blalmnaur: i request the yeas and nays. the chair: further proceedings on the amendment will be postponed. the clerk will read. the clerk: none of the funds may be used for construction service where the contractors hasn't complied with executive order number 129-89. section 4 13rks none of the funds may be used to enter into a contract or loan guarantee to any corporation quicked of a felony criminal violation. section 414, none of the funds may be used to enter into a contract or loan guarantee to any corporation that has any unpaid federal tax liabilities that has been assessed. section 415.
none of the funds may be used by the department to lease or purchase new light duty vehicles except in accordance with presidential memorandum, spending reduction account, section 416. the amount by which the applicable allocation of new budget authority made by the committee exceeds the amount of proposed new budget authority is zero dollars. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk printed as number one in the congressional record. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number one printed in the congressional record offered by mr. rot oothff pennsylvania. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. rothfus: i rise to stand with the nation's veterans and their families. this morning i had an opportunity to honor an thank sergeant george thursbee. he served in the army air force in world war ii and was held as a prisoner of war. today, decades after his release, he finally received his
long overdue recognition. you should have heard the rapturous applause he received from the families, service members and citizens. we owe veterans like the sergeant a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid that is why i rise in strong support of the military construction and veterans affairs appropriations act under consideration today. it is also why this amendment i am offering today is so important. as public servants, employees of the v.a. have a solemn obligation to ensure that veterans receive the respect, support and care they have earned and rightly expect. unfortunately, the v.a. has fail -- has failed veterans in western pennsylvania and across the country. at least six veterans contracted legionnaire's disease and died because of mistakes and systemic failures at the pittsburgh v. afrlt. william nicholas, one of these, was a loving husband, father and grandfather. he was known for his practical jokes, love of sports and being
the first and last person on the dance floor. he started an auto body shop when he returned to civilian life and helped two of his sons begin their own business as contractors. more than anything he was uncommonly dedicated to his family, his fellow service members, veterans and his country. a proud and loyal veteran from hampton township in pennsylvania's 129 district, he was a tail gun for the a navy air-sea rescue force in world war ii. mr. nicholas survived guam, sambings ipan and okinawa but fell victim to legionnaire's disease in pittsburgh. over the last year i have worked with my colleagues to demand accountability for the families f mr. nicholas and others. the first of these veterans to fall to legionnaire's disease died in 2011. the last died in november of
2012. it's been almost one and a half years since mr. nicholas died and almost three years since the first one died. where's the accountability and where's the transparency. we have asked v.a. secretary shin sec key what actions they'll -- shinseki what actions they'll take to hold accountable for these deaths. officials at the v.a. owe the families answers but have provided none. more outrageous, the regional director at the time of these deaths was awarded and accepted the highest award for civil servants and a $63,000 bonus only three day that was inspector general found that systemic failures resulted in these deaths. across the nation, the v.a. has demonstrated a widespread and systemic lack of accountability, according to a recent investigation by the veterans affairs committee. this manifested itself in not just infested disease outbreaks and preventable death bus also wasteful spending and back
lorged disability claims. i thank the veterans affairs committee for their tremendous work fighting for the veterans and promoting accountability and transparency at the v.a. paying bonuses to senior executives of an organization with an abysmal performance record is ridiculous yet the v.a. gave out bonuses totaling $2.8 billion mel in 2011 and $2 .3 million in 2012. v.a. executives need to take responsible, fix the problems and do their jobs. last year i offered an amendment directing that none of the funds appropriate maid be used to pay for senior executive bonuses. the amendment was adopted by voice vote and was included in last yearees millson v.a. bill which passed by a vote of 421-4678 the senate did not consider a milcon v.a. bill last year and the measure was not included in the omnibus. unfortunately, one year has passed and this measure is still
needed. i thank chairman miller and congressman gosar, olson, enishek, mckinney, crawford, kelly, lamalfa, goodlatte and meadows for their support of our nation's veterans and this amendment. i urge my colleagues to stand with the nation's veterans and vote iowa on this amendment. -- and vote yea on this amendment. the chair: is there further discussion on the amendment? for what purpose does the gentleman from texas rise? >> i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. culberson: i rise in support of this amendment. many members have requested lang wang to ban bonuses for senior level executives in response to concerns mr. rothfus mentioned. i join him in grieving for the veterans who lost their lifes as a result of the legionnaire's disease outbreak. my heart goes out to them and their families. the authorizing committee has
indeed taken action on this issue. the g.i. bill, tuition fairness act of 2013 that passed in february contains a five-year ban of performance bonus for v.a. senior executive service employees and in february the chairman of the house veterans afairs committee introduced legislation to give the v.a. secretary complete authority to fire or demote veterans affairs senior executive employee -- senior executive employees based on performance. that's a sorely needed performance tool that the v.a. secretary i know will use. the -- mr. chairman, we've also included language in our report reiterating that the secretary of the v.a. has the authority they need to reward them for good performance and withhold rewards for poor performance just like the private sector. that's something i asked in our hearing and we established that from the secretary's own testimony, reaffirmed it in the bill itself. the secretary demonstrated his commitment to linking awards to
performance when he withheld awards for everyone in the veterans administration last year because the claims backlog targets have not been met. this is i believe an important amendment and i support it and urge my members, the members of the house to support it to send a clear signal to the v.a., member -- members of the united states congress are unhappy with the performance and need to step it up. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? the gentleman is recognized. mr. bishop: we are all outraged by the claims backlog and the ince dens of damage to health around safety. the claims become log is unacceptable. there's no question that they have problems however the v. ample has reduced the backlog by 4 -- by 44%. should we ignore that in it's also clear that some v.a. health
facilities have had serious issue this is a put the health, safety and well being of our veterans at risk. this too is unacceptable. where have these failures occurred. it's hard to imagine how the v.a. leaders could have received performance ratings and substantial bonuses. however this amendment will not provide any solution in the short term and in fact may have the long-term consequences and compound the very problems it attempts to address. this amendment would make the v.a. a less attractive option than other agencies when it comes to recruiting and retaining quality executive leaders and it will not have the talent it needs to solve the problems it faces today like the claims backlog and the health care deficiencies. furthermore, bonuses are governed by title 5 of the united states code and administered by the office of personnel management. any change to title 5 to address v.a. would then also apply to
all other federal agencies. attempting an across the board, one size fits all fix will penalize those who are dedicated , dedicated v.a. executives, who are working hard and doing a good job to find solutions to the v.a.'s problems. i urge all members to vote no on this amendment. we're throwing out the baby with the bath water. this is not a good amendment and i urge this house to defeat it. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from arizona seek recognition? >> i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> i rise in support of this amendment. i would like to thank the gentleman, mr. rothfus, for offering this amendment. our offices have worked closely on this issue. mr. gosar: this amendment is a simple one. senior leadership at the v.a. has repeatedly failed the very
veterans they're meant to support. initial responses for benefit claims hover close to a year in many cases with appeal responses taking significantly longer. in too many ince tans they require congressional intervention. my staff, though happy to do so, has far too many cases open on behalf of veterans trying to receive their earned benefits with the veterans administration. with so many veterans being let down by their government, those in charge of the administration of benefits should not be rewarded. this should be common sense. i would also like to take a quick moment to thank congressman miller, chairman of the house veterans affairs committee, for introducing similar legislation to allow the secretary of the v.a. to fire senior executives or cut their pay for lack of performance. there are many members on both sides of the aisle interested in shaking things up at the v.a. i suggest we start here by adopting the relevant amendments, these relevant amendment this is a will hold these government employees accountable. i urge passage of this amendment and yield back the balance of my time.
the chair: the gentleman yields back. is there further discussion? the gentleman from michigan, for what purpose does the sec -- does he seek recognition? >> i move to strike the last word. the chair: the zwrelt is recognized for five minutes. >> i rise in support of the amendment offered by my friend mr. roth fust to deny bonuses to members of the v.a. senior executive service. bonuses are bade for a job well done. mr. benishek: but at the v.a. the job is clearly not getting done. the tragic story out of phoenix is only the latest example. as a member of the veterans affairs committee and a doctor who served as the v.a. hospital at iron mountain for 20 years irk watched in disgust as the stories keep rolling. in pittsburgh, atlanta, memphis, columbia, south carolina, and augusta, georgia, have all seen preventable veterans' deaths linked to severe mismanagement. make no mistake, these are not isolated ince tent -- incidents.
this is a national crisis. it must be treated with the significance it deserves. we can keep drags v.a. leaders in front of the committee but i am sick and tired of hearing their excuses. the time when explanations and apologies would be enough. it's time to hold the people that have repeatedly and egregiously failed our veterans accountable for their actions. this amendment is a good, commonsense first step. i'm proud to support it. however, it alone is not enough. the problem goes deeper than the senior executive service and our veterans are demanding real accountability. that's why i introduced a demanding accountability for veterans act, to provide a permanent solution to getting the v.a. to provide the care our veterans need. i'm pleased this bill was passed unanimously by the v.a. committee and i look forward to its consideration on the floor. we can't wait any longer to make
the essential changes to the .a. that our veterans deserve. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from virginia seek recognition? mr. moran: i rise to strike the last word. mr. speaker, the amendment before us reflects concerns that congress has had over senior executives at the department of veterans affairs receiving performance bonuses when v.a. hospital standards were not up to par and when we continue to see a backlog of disability claims. i share those concerns that v.a. truly does not into -- need to tackle. but recent actions taken by this congress, through the good work of the milcon appropriations subcommittee, and the veterans' administration, have in fact improved the operational efficiency of those hospitals and reduced the backlog. the v.a. has also instituted much greater transparency in the process of awarding bonuses for its senior executives.
in fact, the v.a. has centralized senior executive award decisions, they've added an additional level of review in crucial of those awards and the v.a. has significantly reduced the value of those awards compared to prior years. most importantly, the secretary has already demonstrated his willingness to use the bonus system as a way to reward and penalize staff based on their performance. as it stands, the secretary has all the authority he needs to use bonuses to influence performance. i think this amendment is something of a political ploy, mr. speaker. it's designed to misdirect our frustrations to the good men and women who have chosen to government in the civilian work force. i take serious issue with this very popular practice of continuing to punish a work force that is predominantly composed of hardworking federal servants. if we want to retain the individuals that make up what is in fact the best large
federal civil service in the world, we need to change this culture very quickly. after three years of pay freezes, pension cuts, pay cuts and furloughs, our senior executive service, which is largely composed of the best of the best in the federal work force, has at the very least earned these bonuses. congressional budget office has confirmed that federal employees at highly skilled professions could be earning much more in the private sector. why do they choose public service? not for monetary gain but for love of country. and the opportunity to make people's lives better, particularly our veterans. but they have families to feed and mortgages to pay and children to send to college. where does it end? no matter how many times this house majority says the government can't solve problems, can't create jobs, can't help the american people, it will never be the case. the fact is, this government does help the american people, we should be proud of our government, not punish our
civil servants, and the fact is that you can find far more veterans who are appreciative of the good work that the people in the veterans administration does than those who disparage it. and so i would urge rejection of this amendment. thank you, mr. speaker. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. is there further discussion on the amendment? the gentleman from california. the gentleman is recognized for ive minutes. >> thank you, mr. speaker. rise today in support of mr. rothfus. i appreciate his effort on that. it's hard to believe what i'm hearing in here today. mr. lamalfa: when you look at the backlog and how veterans are being treated in this country, in northern california, it's amazing that we're on complete different wave lengths here. the lack of accountability and transparency within the v.a. is nothing short of shameful. yet again and again i've heard from many veterans in the north state concerned about the timeliness and the frustrating
claims process at v.a. facilities in california. namely the oakland office, which is one of the slowest regional offices in the nation. despite past promises of v.a. to improve the backlogs, services to our veterans continue to deteriorate. this negligence and mismanagement is completely unacceptable. when veterans are being denied access to the care and services they rightly deserve and expect, reform is necessary. certainly not bonuses to senior executives. when a program funded by taxpayers is failing to provide the level of services expected, accountability, not compensation, should be demanded. rewarding and compensate not only exacerbates the pressing issues within the v.a. but also serves as an insult to the men and women who have given so much to our country, as well as the many very good case workers and v.a. staff who work see no bonus but try to do their jobs.
underneath that regime. this amendment is about fairness and what is right by fulfilling the promise to our veterans. it ensures our veterans would receive the benefits and services they are promised and restores accountability within the v.a. to make sure taxpayer money is rightfully spent, fixing the backlog and the incompetency that's harming our veterans' health, insulting them, as well as the american taxpayer. this amendment isn't about throwing the baby out with the bath water. this is about throwing the bonuses out with the bath water. i applaud congressman rothfus for his leadership in standing up for our nation's veatrans -- veterans, urge my colleagues to support this important measure. mr. speaker, i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from kansas seek recognition? >> mr. chairman, i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, i'm glad to join my colleague from pennsylvania in co-sponsoring this important amendment, but i must admit it is regrettable,
actually no, shameful, we actually have to be here today discussing this topic. as a member of the house veterans affairs committee, i have heard over and over and over again of stories of abuse, neglect and mismanagement within the v.a. mr. huelskamp: but the one thing i never hear about is accountability. in fact, under the leadership of the current secretary, a senior executive service employee who has presided over mismanagement at the v.a. is more likely to receive a sizable bonus than to be disciplined or fired. the culture of anything goes has got to stop. and the best way to stop this is to send a strong signal across the department of v.a. that congress means bills. it is obvious from the headlines about the sizable bonuses received by v.a. administrators in georgia, south carolina, pittsburgh and phoenix, that the performance-award system at the
v.a. is a failure. i have asked the v.a. in congressional hearing after hearing after hearing for a specific list of disciplinary actions the kept has -- the department has imposed on employees and executives who have presided over these delays and preventable veteran deaths. instead of giving answer, they've only pointed to retirements, transfers, and bureaucratic slaps on the wrist, but not a single undeserved performance bonus has been returned to the taxpayer. these folks create attempts to create the appearance of accountability are unacceptable. unfortunately unfortunately, the story last week of phoenix is not an isolated event. just three weeks ago in our committee, the v.a. admitted to another 23 preventable deaths within their facilities. the v.a. bureaucrats responsible for the management of the facilities consistently receive siceble -- sizable bonuses from hardworking taxpayers. these administrators have been given a sacred trust to care and serve our nation's veterans and, quite frankly, mr. chairman, they've broken that
trust and it's time for accountability. for these reasons, i urge my colleagues to support this amendment, to defund these v.a. bonuses and return some accountability to the v.a. thank you, mr. chairman, and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i rise today to appeal to those on both sides of the aisle to really, what we've been talking about here, is hold the executives in the department of veterans affairs accountable. i think what has been interesting and what we've heard a little bit is really a tale of not the two cities but a tale of two opinions. mr. collins: and one opinion is the preupon drans of evidence we see in our district offices and washington offices, our problems in the v.a., and then on the other side it's a, yeah, it's bad but let's still do business the same way. i think that's where the american people get frustrated. i believe by now everyone is already aware of the lack of really ethical and moral
absence of judgment in many areas. the decision there to cook the books that denied care to needy veatrans -- veterans is simply unconscionable. the fact alone that should anger every member in this body and it certainly angers the people in the ninth district of jming. sadly, the story doesn't end there. one has to question our civil service compensation system, the executive at the v.a. facility there received a salary, plus $9,000 in bonuses. for what? saving taxpayer money? $9,000 isen believable. we awarded an executive who in reality was failing our fellow americans $9,000. as a member of the united states air force reserve, we instill in our members the universal core valve integrity first. the case -- core value of integrity first. i will not tolerate this kind of behavior in our government. the vast majority of americans and the vast majority of the
v.a. employees listen to me, work sacrificialy and for fellow americans. the vast number of them. that we work with. except for a select few, those at the veterans administration have answered a call to provide care and compensation to those that gave the most for themselves and for our country. to them i want to pass along a sincere thank you. it is disheartening that your reputation could be tarnished by association of a few at the top of your organization. this scandal is really two problems. one is the outrageous secret list to managed care so a few could thicken their wallets and the second is how we awarded bonuses to executives. they wouldn't have received bonuses if we knew the metrics of patient appointments were exaggerated. they didn't think of the consequences of their actions and i would like to think the issues or it was isolated to certain areas but my fear is temperatures it was a systemic problem. immediately i want to applaud chairman miller's efforts to investigate the potential secret list at all v.a.
hospitals. honorably discharged veterans don't earn the label honorable by doing what is right some of the time. they earn it by doing what is right all the time. should we allow the hospital administrators to receive bonuses for doing what is right only some of the time? we have an opportunity here to demonstrate that the u.s. congress is good stewards of taxpayer money and unethical and unamerican behavior in our government will not be condoned. on behalf of the veterans i proudly represent, i support the chairman's investigation, i support mr. rothfus' amendment and i support the underlying appropriations measure here. so these things will not happen again. and looking at this, it was stated just a few moments ago on the floor, it was insent waited on this floor that this a -- insinuated on this floor that this was a political ploy. i don't think it's a political ploy to do what is right. if that's where this debate has really taken center on, and i will say for a fact as i said a moment ago, that the vast majority of v.a. employees do a great job for what they're working. but they're being betrayed at the top and the not time to
award these kind of bampes with taxpayer dollars -- behaviors with taxpayer dollars. this is what we're here for, not a political ploy, but to do what the congress is supposed to do and that's to keep our money where it's supposed to be going and providing the benefits that these veterans deserve. and with that i support the amendment, i support the underlying bill and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from ohio seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i rise in support of the rothfus amendment which i'm a co-sponsor of. i want to thank representative rothfus for his leadership on this issue. i also want to recognize the chairman of the veterans' affairs committee for his leadership on ensuring that no member of the senior executive service can abuse their power and in fact they'll be held accountable and promoted and fired based on performance. nfortunately our veterans'
affairs has failed to take appropriate action to increase transparency and hold senior executive service employees accountable for their actions and their performance. mr. stivers: and recent critical reports from the v.a.'s general -- or inspector general and the g.a.o. have shown that some v.a. executives continue to receive praise on their performance reviews and collect generous cash bonuses up to $63,000. let me be clear, though. most v.a. employees are hardworking, dedicated public servants, but there are a few at the top who need to be held accountable. the veterans' affairs -- the veterans affairs department began the month of april proudly proclaiming success in reducing the stubborn backlog of disability claims. however they improved that number by denying incomplete claims and creating a huge appeals backlog. the backlog is causing our veterans to be denied
disability compensation and access to health care and we shouldn't allow these executives to take bonuses for false success. the v.a.'s clearly not fulfilling its commitment to our veterans. this amendment's simple. it ensures that senior v.a. officials are held accountable for their performance and cannot be rewarded for false performance. congress passed in 2012 the -- in the consolidated appropriations an amendment that required the v.a. to share prescription information with state prescription drug monitoring programs. as many of my colleagues know, our veteran populations facing of opium emic addiction and it is making them commit suicide and overdosing. it has not been fully implemented to share the
information to the prescription drug monitoring programs. prescription in the prescription -- participation in the prescription drug monitoring program will make sure they overprescribe opioids to our veterans. t having this rule implemented is another reason to prohibit perm per formans benefits for our senior v.a. officials. i ask all members to support this amendment and the entire milcon-va appropriations bill and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back. is there further discussion on the amendment? seeing none, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from pennsylvania. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. nd the amendment is adopted. for what purpose does the gentleman from florida seek recognition? >> mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. murphy of florida.
at the end of the bill before the short title insert the following -- mr. murphy: i ask unanimous consent to consider it read. the chair: without objection. mr. murphy: i rise to offer an amendment to the military construction and veterans affairs appropriations bill to eliminate wasteful spending on facilities. the defense department has hundreds, possibly thousands of buildings and structures that has rated at 0% utilization. this is an incredible number of useless facilities the department of defense is paying to maintain. federal agencies as a whole must do a better job at managing their facilities. taxpayers cannot continue paying for unused and underused uildings while the nation is at record debt levels. that is not good government and that is not smart spending. that is why i joined representatives david joyce of ohio and mike coffman of colorado to introduce the saves act to root out about $230
billion in wasteful and duplicative government spending over the next 10 years. this amendment is an extension of one of those commonsense solutions included in the bipartisan save act, preventing the department of defense from spending money on facilities that the department itself has rated at 0% utilization. i offered the same amendment last year which this chamber accepted by voice vote and i ask for your same support today. i understand the department of defense may be concerned that this amendment would prevent them from carrying out bracc work. i believe it is an essential process and i have no intention of disrupting it. after investigating the department's concerns, my understanding is that no additional bracc work will happen before 2017 at the earliest, long after this appropriations bill has expired. and any ongoing environmental remediation from previous braccs is exempted from my amendment which gives the department the flexibility to properly address any
environmental threats at unused facilities as well as maintain historic military sites. that said, i would welcome the opportunity to work with the committee to address any bracc-related issues in conference. mr. speaker, we all agree that we must rein in wasteful government spending. my amendment is a commonsense solution to do just that, and i urge my colleagues to support this amendment. i yield the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back. is there further discussion on the amendment? seeing none, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from florida. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it and the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from florida seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. he clerk: amendment offered by mr. ross of florida. at the end of the bill before the short title insert the
following -- section. none of the funds made available by this act may be used by the secretary of defense to close a commissary store. the chair: the gentleman from florida is recognized for five minutes. mr. ross: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise today to offer an important amendment to this year's military construction and veterans affairs appropriations bill. my amendment would protect access to commissaries. as a representative of a community with such a strong military presence, i have had the honor to be advised by a number of active veterans and military leaders. the requests have always been consistent. we must not balance our nation's fiscal problems on the backs of our veterans and active duty personnel. unfortunately, the secretary of defense released his fiscal year 2015 budget request for the department of defense which included the proposed closure of commissaries. just last night i held a town hall meeting and a retired chief petty officer -- retired chief master sergeant, richard
redhill, voiced his concern over the closure of commissaries. now, look, there are already attempts out there to gut their health care by way of cutting tricare. there are attempts out there to gut their cost-of-living adjustments. let's at least leave their commissaries alone. et us -- our military is the most advanced and well trained the world has ever seen not because we are the best in technology in weapons systems but also because of those men and women who volunteer in stand in defense of our country. i want to thank chairman culberson and ranking member bishop for their hard work on this important funding measure and hope my colleagues will join me in adopting this important amendment. with that i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. is there further discussion on the amendment? seeing none the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from florida. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no.
the ayes have it and the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? >> mr. chairman, i rise to offer amendment number 3. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 3 printed in the congressional record offered by mr. takano of california. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? mr. culberson: i reserve a point of order on the amendment. the chair: a point of order is reserved. the gentleman from california is recognized for five minutes. mr. takano: mr. chairman, career education programs, programs of less than two years that are designed to prepare students for direct entry into a specific profession too often fail our student veterans. many of these programs at for-profit schools leave our student veterans with unsustainible debt and worthless credentials. my amendment will ensure that veteran education benefits are only used for career education programs that qualifies students to take an examination required for entry into an
occupation or profession or provide them with certificates or licenses that meet state and industry requirements. i've heard time and time again that a key for successful transition from active duty to veteran status is gainful employment, and that is why we must make sure that the education our veterans receive is truly helping them enter the work force. again, i urge all my colleagues to support this amendment, and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from texas. mr. culberson: mr. chairman, i make a point of order against the amendment because it proposes to change existing law and constitutes legislation in an appropriations bill and therefore violates clause 2 of rule 21. the rule states in pertinent part, mr. chairman, an amendment to a general appropriations bill shall not be in order if changing existing law and the amendment, in this case, requires a new determination. i would ask for a ruling from the chair. the chair: does any member wish
to address the point of order? seeing none, the chair is prepared to rule. the chair finds this amendment includes language requiring a new determination as to whether curricula proprietary institutions satisfy various requirements. the amendment, therefore, constitutes violation of clause 2 of rule 21. the point of order is sustained and the amendment is not in order. for what purpose does the gentleman from oregon seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. can the gentleman send his amendment to the desk? mr. blumenauer: sorry, mr. chairman.
the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. blumenauer of oregon. at the end of the bill before the short title, insert the following -- section. none of the funds made available by this act may be used to implement veterans health administration directives 2011-004 with respect to prohibition on v.a. providers for completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a veteran's participation in a state marijuana program. the chair: the gentleman from oregon is recognized for five minutes. mr. blumenauer: thank you, mr. chairman. i deeply appreciate the hard work of the committee to make sure that our veterans are properly cared for. they deserve our best. too many are returning from iraq and afghanistan with obvious wounds, missing limbs, but over 2.3 million are returning suffering from wounds
that are not visible. they are suffering from depression and ptsd. that's why we lose 22 veterans per day who take their lives. long since outnumbering the battlefield deaths. they deserve our best. over 100 million people reside in the 21 states, including your home state of california, which was the first to legalize medical marijuana. 21 states and the district of columbia have passed laws that provide for legal access to medical marijuana. as a result, as i say, over a million people now have access to it, including many of our veterans who use medical marijuana at the recommendation of their physician to treat conditions ranging from seizures, glaucoma, chronic pain and the simple tomes associated with chemotherapy. there are nine states,
including my home state of oregon, allow physicians who recommend medical marijuana for the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. i've heard those stories myself. i would ask unanimous consent to enter into the record one story that was in the nbc news on april 1 about marine veteran logan edwards who describes how access to medical marijuana may have saved his life. the chair: the request is under general orders. mr. blumenauer: and, mr. chairman, any of my colleagues, whether they're in a state that's legalized medical marijuana or not, can find examples of veterans who are benefiting from this treatment. yet, the department of veterans administration specifically rohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions
regarding a veteran's participation in a state marijuana -- legal state marijuana program. the amendment, which i'm offering today, with representatives farr, rohrabacher and polis, is simple. it ensures that no funds be ade available to the v.a. to implement this prohibition. the amendment would not authorize the v.a. to -- to authorize the possession or use of marijuana at v.a. facilities. it would simply free up v.a. providers to recommend medical marijuana or to provide advice of it in accordance with state laws if they choose. over 20% of those 2.3 million american veterans who suffer from ptsd or depression, while there's no single approach to aiding our veterans with ptsd, we should not use an outmoded policy to serve as a roadblock as a path to recovery. we found that there are nearly
a million veterans who receive opiates to treat chronic pain. more continue to use it chroniclely after the treatment regimen. another study found that the death rate from openiate overdoses among v.a. patients is twice the national average. the states where patients can legally access medical marijuana for painful conditions as an alternative, we shouldn't -- we shouldn't tie the hands of that primary provider or prevent our veterans from talking to their primary care physician. they should not be forced outside the v.a. system to seek a simple recommendation or to get information about these conditions or eligible conditions granted to them by state law. our v.a. physicians should not be denied the ability to offer recommendations, advice that they think meets the needs of their patients.
this shouldn't be controversial. according to a poll published in "the new england journal of medicine," over 70% of physicians have said they would, when appropriate, recommend the use of medical marijuana to their patients. we all know of people with violent nausea as a result of chemotherapy. why would you deny that to our veterans or at least being able to discuss it? physicians, the support nationally for legalizing medical marijuana has also exceeded 70% in major national polls. . this amendment allows veterans to consult with their primary provider, the same right enjoyed by over 100 million americans today. i urge you to treat our veterans fairly and approve this amendment. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. for what purpose does the
gentleman from texas seek recognition? >> move to strike the last word. mr. culberson: i rise in opposition even though i'm a 10th believer of the amendment, we are talking about federal facilities. and marijuana is prohibited by federal law and it continue to be prohibit odd a federal facility. this is an issue that should be left to the states and nothing is prohibiting a veteran to seek medical attention in a state where this is legal or medical marijuana is legal. they can -- in some of these states they are working on vending machines for them. i understand the gentleman's position but again these are federal facilities, funded with federal dollars and prohibited under federal law and it is an issue best left to the states and we would all do better as a congress to honor the 10th endment and those issues
involving public health and public safety to the states. and leave the vast majority of issues in the hands of voters, locally elected officials and state officials. when it comes to a federally-funded facility, i think it's appropriate that the v.a. has a policy against their doctors realming the use of a -- recommending the use of a substance prohibited by federal law. and i urge members to oppose the amendment. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? >> seek the last word. mr. farr: i couldn't disagree more. this is a medical issue that should be in the hands of medical doctors and does not allow them to prescribe marijuana. they can prescribe oxycotin. this amendment says if your
state has legalized for medical purposes that a doctor in a v.a. medical facility, you can have a discussion on whether you ought to have access to -- he can't write out the prescription, doesn't have the authority to do that. it's a discussion, it's a medical conversation. and i don't care whether you are for or against marijuana, that's not the issue here. -- mr. e is, look an man, you know this assemblyman in california dying of cancer made a plea on the legislative floor and he was a pretty conservative guy. he said when you are dying, don't deny us access to hope, it was an issue of getting access
to a prescription drug that had president been licensed. we are in this debate whether we like it or not. e californiaians have passed that if we have chronic pain and medical marijuana can aleve the pain, don't deny us access. if you want a discussion with your doctor about relieving pain or other things, you can have this conversation. as a medical adviser, they want that authority. they can't do it in every state, but only in those states where the dialogue is going to be on the streets any way. they aren't going to be a professional dialogue unless you let doctors do this. let doctors advise patients accordingly. pass this amendment regardless of how you feel about how you feel of marijuana. mr. culberson: mr. chairman --
mr. blumenauer: i listened to my good friend from texas and i'm troubled here, why would we force veterans who are entitled to veterans' health and have a primary physician that meets their needs saying, sorry, you don't get it in this case. go out on your own nickel, go out and find a new doctor. we aren't talking about prescribing it or using it on federal facilities. we are talking about giving access to information and having that conversation. i dare say there is no other medical condition, if it were polio or it were cancer that you'd say, nope, go someplace else. go on your own dime. find somebody, build a relationship, who doesn't know your history, who hasn't seen you regularly. you're out of here. i think that is a disservice to our veterans. i don't think it is anything that if you talk to veterans
groups or talk to the people who benefit from it that they think they ought to be denied the ability to consult with their trusted medical provider. mr. culberson: would the gentleman yield? mr. blumenauer: i would be happy to yield. mr. culberson: we are talking about those states where it's already been permitted, either medical marijuana as in colorado and washington state has already permitted it. it is a 10th amendment issue. it is something left up to the states. we are talking about federally-funded facilities and that's a concern where under federal law, it is prohibitsed. mr. farr: no, it isn't. mr. culberson: this is a federally-funded facility. mr. farr: you are going to tell the doctor, i can't talk to you about medical marijuana. i can answer your questions about abortion, oxycotin,
alcohol, i cannot talk about any other evil or benefit, but i'm prohibited by federal law because i'm a doctor in this state from having a conversation with you about medical marijuana. that doesn't make sense. it's not good medical practice. mr. culberson: because it is prohibited by federal law. mr. farr: but not in those states and i happen to be in a state where federal law ignores this because law enforcement, medical folks, it's part of our system. we worked out the regulations. and you don't see the feds coming in busting clinics in california or people using medical marijuana. you are busting a lot of senior citizens. we have a hypocrisy in the law and that's what this amendment is trying to clear up. i ask for an aye vote. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from colorado seek recognition? gentleman recognized for five
minutes. >> you are absolutely right, it is against federal law and it is something that we as a legislature need to look at very closely. we are dealing with issues right now in colorado, we legalized the use of marijuana. in respect to certain banking laws, there may be a question of whether banks can provide financial services and as a con see sense cash is building up. mr. perlmutter: you may be absolutely right, as i say to my friend from texas. but the gentleman from oregon really does as does the gentleman from california, state a valid case from a medical point of view. and i would just say that i had a brother-in-law who had melanoma and the only thing that ave him any relief was
marijuana. now subsequently, he has passed away, but from a medical standpoint, there ought to be an opportunity for a doctor to consult with a patient to prescribe something that gives that kind of relief. so you are correct, mr. chairman. but i think we weed to take a good look at this. colorado, we see a lot of people coming to colorado to help treat epilepsy. and because marijuana may have some positive effects on epilepsy. and we need to take a look at that in a variety of ways. mr. culberson: that is a valid issue for the states to take up. all of us should honor the 10th amendment the constitution delegates limited powers to the congress. if it crosses state lines, interstate commerce that is a valid federal concern. but that debate, you are right, should be at the state.
that is reserved to the states under the 10th amendment and i would agree with you. but in a federal facility that's different. using federal dollars to talk about a substance that is prohibited under federal law. i have a problem with that. >> reclaiming my time. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? mr. rohrabacher: i move to strike the last word. i'm happy to hear my good friend from texas supporting the other legislation that we have that leaves it up to the states to make sure that they can declare marijuana legal or illegal. very happy to have you on board. i rise? strong support today however of the blumenauer- farr-rohrabacher-polis amendment , which would essentially remove an unreasonable barrier that prevents v.a. physicians from
recommending that our veterans have the benefit of state medical marijuana programs. the idea that v.a. physicians totally legitimate doctors who treat veterans and their illnesses cannot recommend marijuana or by the way, any other drug to their patients and to treat things especially when they are going to recommend a drug that might be used in treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, this is extremely troubling. our veterans have benefited from using medical marijuana to treat ptsd and other ailments, so why we denying the ability to access something through their health care provider that is available to the general public through access to their providers? the fact that our veterans
cannot receive recommendations rom v.a. physicians means -- that they are forced to go outside the v.a. system just to get a simple recommendation on a drug. restricting the freedom and ability of our nation's heroes, individuals who have sacrificed so much for our freedom to obtain medicine that their doctor believes would aleve yate their problem and -- alleviate their problem and treatment to an ailment and by the way, these ailments may be the result of a war that we sent them off to fight. but now to deny them the right to actually have their doctor give the recommendation that he thinks would help them is simply not right. there are numerous physicians who believe that medical marijuana can have a great impact on these patients, on
these veterans, on these people who are suffering perhaps, suffering as a result of the battles we put them through. to fence off our veterans from such benefits are not acceptable. i sincerely hope that my colleagues will stand up for patients and veterans by rejecting this heavy-handed government intervention into the doctor-patient relationship. vote for this amendment and get out of the way of the medical judgment of v.a. physicians who are treating our veterans. get out of the way. let our v.a. physicians do what they believe is right for our veterans. that's what the issue is today. and we are talking about medical marijuana or other treatments, certainly our v.a. physicians
would know more about that and have more concern for their patient than we here in congress and those people who set up national rules. so let's get out of the way, make sure we give the power and empower the v.a. physicianses to do their job, our veterans deserve that from us and don't deserve obstructionism between the united states congress and their veterans' physicians. i call on my colleagues to join me in support of this amendment. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentlelady from nevada seek recognition? ms. titus: move to strike the last word. rise in support of this amendment by mr. blumenauer, rohrabacher and farr. i'm strongly in favor of it. the people of nevada voted overwhelmingly to legalize medical marijuana and in the coming months, the first medical marijuana deposit towers will go online throughout the state.
at the same time, we have a brand new v.a. hospital, which will be serving the veterans of my district and all across southern nevada. unfortunately due to the v.a.'s current restrictions, 150,000 veterans to call nevada home will be unable to receive a prescription for medical marijuana through their v.a. doctors and so will not have the opportunity to take advantage of this available in nevada, medical option. this is just not fair and i believe that the v.a. should have the flexibility. it's been said much morel quently by the sponsors of this amendment. but the v.a. should have the ability to recommend the best available treatments to our nation's veterans especially if that treatment is approved under the state laws where the veteran lives. as a member of the house veterans affairs committee, i regularly speak with v.a. doctors and patients about advances in care for our nation's heroes. forcing those people, those
brave men and women who have sacrificed so much now to seek outside medical evaluation to access legal medical treatment from doctors who have little or no understanding of the unique challenges that our veterans face is simply bad policy, bad political policy and bad medical policy. we have seen the positive results that medical marijuana can have for patients suffering from ptsd and other ailments associated with other experiences such as combat. more studies are under way including by the v.a. itself that are anticipated to show these same kinds of results and we have heard numerous stories firsthand. i support this. it is common sense. it's bipartisan. we should move forward. and i urge my colleagues to join. at this time, i would yield the remainder of my time to mr. blumenauer. .
mr. blumenauer: i appreciate the gentlelady's kurt cisand the points she -- courtesies and the points she made. i heard the chair of the committee talk about it being against the law. i am not aware of anyplace -- and i would direct this to mr. culberson -- i am not away of anyplace in the statutes where it's illegal for our v.a. octors to give advice to our veterans about a treatment that's legal in a state. if there's -- what we're talking about is a prohibition that is a directive. so if there's a statute, i'd be interested in knowing about it. but even if it is, what if the advice that the v.a. doctor wants to give is don't use medical marijuana? they know their patient. even if it's legal in their state, they think it's not in the best interest of the patient. your policy would prohibit that
doctor from telling that patient, i think it's wrong for you. i don't think it works. what is the wisdom of prohibiting? you're prejudging what the doctor would say. i think the doctor ought to be able to give whatever advice he or she wants to give. but i would redirect -- i'd yield to you if the gentlelady would permit -- where is it illegal under federal law for a doctor to talk about medical marijuana or any other treatment? the chair: does the gentlelady from nevada yield? ms. titus: i yield. mr. culberson: a federal employee who is paid with federal tax dollars is obligated to follow federal law. federal law -- mr. blumenauer: where in the federal law says it's illegal? mr. culberson: it's prohibited under federal law. mr. blumenauer: where? i haven't been able to find it? where is it prohibited for a doctor -- mr. culberson: your question is -- mr. blumenauer: advice to a treatment that's legal in their
tate, pro or con? mr. culberson: a federal employee drawing paychecks from federal dollar is obligated to -- marijuana is prohibited under federal law. that's my point. that is -- in this case -- mr. blumenauer: could i urge -- mr. culberson: i urge members to oppose the amendment. mr. blumenauer: i want to make the point that the gentleman is wrong. i'm happy for him to show us where it's prohibited for a doctor to talk about a legal state treatment. there's no federal prohibition that we've been able to find because if i could find it i'd introduce legislation to repeal it. but my point obtained, what if the advice of the doctor is don't use medical marijuana which is legal? because it's not right for you. i'm your primary physician. why would you prohibit that? the chair: the time of the gentlelady from nevada has expired. mr. blumenauer: thank you very much. the chair: for what purpose --
for what purpose does the gentleman from louisiana rise? >> to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. fleming: thank you and -- mr. speaker -- mr. chairman. it's a very interesting discussion. i'm talking on the subject coming from the perspective of a physician and a military veteran himself, someone who is very acquainted with addiction disorders, someone who's been a medical director for addiction centers. even involved with methadone treatment over the years. and i can tell you that we all honor our veterans. we love our veterans. we are so glad that they have sacrificed what they have and what they go through and we now about ptsd and traumatic brain syndrome and all of these things which are a big problem.
however, i'd say to you, mr. chairman, that the last thing in the world we should be doing is giving medical marijuana to people with these disorders. what if we learned just in recent days, this month, the american heart association came out and said that marijuana, through their studies, both in young adults and middle-aged adults has been shown to be very damaging to the cardiovascular system leading to heart disease, congestive heart failure. have a study right here. also this month, northwestern came out with a study where they found that there was profound changes in the brain just among young adults who were using only casual exposure to marijuana. and we know on a biochemical level that addiction -- addictive substances such as marijuana, causes changes in the microscopic neuro transmitters. i wrote a book on that in 2007. so i would say to you today
that one of the last things we should do is to damage the brains and the hearts of our beloved veterans. why should we be hurting them? and as far as the claim that there's medical use for marijuana, where is the proof of that? what disease or disorder can be treated by marijuana and nothing else just as well if not better? there is no proof out there. trust me. i've been looking for it. there is a mention of treating seizures. yes, university of mississippi is doing a study extracting the oil -- ok. not the t.h.c. -- but the oil for use. it's under experimentation. there's no proof it does any good. and is there really -- is medicinal marijuana anything other than recreational marijuana? well, we have more dispenseries in california and colorado than we do starbucks. now, do we have that many sick people in these states? i don't think so. so i come to you today as a physician telling you that
having treated veterans in v.a. hospitals, one of the last things in the world we should do is give addicting substances to people with ptsd and other brain disorders. any good physician would tell you that. now, we have other anxiety-reducing medications that are nonaddicting and work very well. antidepressants do a very good job. but we know if we compound a brain disorder, a disease with an addicting substance that alters the brain itself, we're just going to see even higher rates of disorders, especially suicides. so i would challenge you today that we back away from this. fine if we can't to do some more studies. but medical marijuana, medicinal marijuana -- we in fact we have something called marinal, which is prescribed, sometimes, under a physician's supervision. but medical marijuana is not assistance cian's
and smoke in marijuana has more tar in it than cigarettes. why do we want to have another epidemic of heart disease and lung disease, especially among our veterans? you can argue about the law -- and i'd say to the gentleman, yes, it would be improper to recommend to a patient to break the law by utilizing a schedule 1 drug. it is against the law to use that. at least the federal law. and i wouldn't advise a patient to go break the law. i don't think it would be proper for me as a physician to do that. so i would say to you today, we have a number of medical and health reasons that we don't nt to heart and damage the vital organs of our wonderful and beloved veterans and if somebody has the claim that marijuana can help people medically, if it's so necessary and better than any other drug we have on the market, well, then come forward with the proof. and the fact there are doctors
out there who say, yeah, i prescribe it for my patients, fine. but we have doctors who do a lot of things that i don't advise and many other doctors don't advise. it doesn't make it right. it only makes it right if we have proof out there, scientific evidence that supports its use and benefits. , again, i think this is a good debate to have. i know we'll talk about it more. this does not belong in this bill. let's protect our veterans, not damage them. thank you and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from tennessee rise? >> i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. cohen: thank you, sir. you know, what the gentleman id was a one-size-fits-all answer. the fact is when i first spoke on this amendment, similar amendment about d.e.a. and marijuana, it was a gentleman named orel james mitchell jr. veteran that died in 1996 of
pancreatic cancer. he violated the law in the state of maryland because he used marijuana to ease his nausea. his mother said it's the only thing that allowed orel to smile and to eat. he didn't like the marinal. he said it didn't do as much good as smoking marijuana. and what we're talking about somebody who has cancer and wants to use marijuana to improve the condition they're in and suffering from from the nausea and there's a lot of evidence that it's better than marinal, then we don't have to worry about the situations that the doctor mentioned about possibly causing somebody heart disease over a period of years which we know tobacco does and it's sold all around and legal, we're talking about saving people pain and we're talking a v.a. doctor being able to distinguish between allowing somebody who might be in the
last months or years of life and alleviating their pain with one of the best agents known to the do that rather than situation where somebody might be young, we don't have that many veterans who is young as the a.m.a. study discussed and their ability to think. that was talking about kids who are teenagers. they're not veterans. so i would submit there are times that doctors should have discretion. we are not talking about the doctor dispensing marijuana. we're talking about a directive from the federal government prohibiting the doctor from saying, i think like dr. fleming and i don't think you should use marijuana. i don't think you should go to another physician that you could afford it outside the v.a. system and try to get him to give you a directive to where you can go and get marijuana this prohibits the v.a. doctor from allowing dr. fleming, if he worked at the v.a., to tell his patient not to do it. the v.a. doctor should be able to speak the truth. and this is censorship by our federal government, a
directive, which i think most of the people on the other side of the aisle have certainly been against federal government 's influence in medical policies and have done all they can to stop the federal government from influencing medical decisions. here's a situation to where you're saying the doctors should be censored. so there's a lot of evidence that medical cannibas helps, but particularly with nausea. and i know the speaker pro tempore knows people in east tennessee as i know in memphis who have contacted me and asked me to allow them to be able to get medical marijuana. they can't do it in tennessee yet. they'd like to do it in tennessee at the veterans hospitals. but where it's legal in the state, the doctors should not be muzzled and censored. and this congress should be in favor of the freedom of speech and the favor of the doctor being able to use their best efforts to help their patients and exercise their hippocratic oath to do what they think is
best which may be to say no. i'd like to yield to mr. blumenauer to add to this iscussion because he was exactly right. this doesn't say anything about dispensing marijuana. it doesn't say you're for marijuana. it simply says you allow the v.a. doctor to exercise their judgment. mr. blumenauer: i appreciate and it's hard to prove upon your eloquence because you're speaking in favor of dr. fleming being able to advise a veteran if he was back at the v.a. to say don't use medical marijuana. this directive would prohibit him from saying to his patient, no, don't do it, and reciting all the fax and figures. why would we -- facts and figures. why would we muzzle dr. fleming from his professional responsibilities one way or another in terms of medical marijuana? i just have visited with dozens of medical professionals who want to do more research, who
want to deal with this in a clinical, thoughtful way. we have stupid federal policies that prohibit the research. i've met with parents who have children with violent epileptic seizures and they're moving to states where they can get medical marijuana because it -- i will on somebody else's time - because they can get it. but the physicians cannot get medical marijuana to study, but it's making a difference for these families. and we just ought not to confuse what we're talking about here. we're talking about v.a. hospital doctors being able to do something that's not prohibited under federal law which is talking about the pros and cons of treatment. that ought to be our objective and that's why this amendment should be approved. the chair: the time of the gentleman from tennessee has expired. the chair: the question is on the amendment offered by the
gentleman from oregon. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it and the amendment is not agreed to. mr. blumenauer: mr. chairman, i would request the yeas and nays. the chair: the gentleman has requested a recorded vote. pursuant to clause 6, rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from oregon will be postponed. for what purpose does the gentleman from new jersey rise? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will read the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by runyan. none of the funds may be used to propose, plan or execute an additional base realignment closure. the chair: the gentleman from new jersey is recognized.
mr. runyan: this amendment which is co-sponsored by representative barber, none of the funds may be used for purpose to plan, execute a new or additional round of brac. mr. chairman, there is no doubt that we recognize the defense budget pressures that we face today in this fiscal environment and direct our limited dollars to addressing the current mission, infrastructure and readiness needs in support of our war fighters. based on the cost of previous brac realignment closures, the new round will entail large upfront costs and will cost much more than originally estimated. the g.a.o. says that the last brac in 2005 had an actual cost of $35.1 billion, approximately a 67% increase from the september, 2005 brac commission original cost estimates of $21
billion. many members want congress to have close oversight over our military installations. this bipartisan amendment ensures we can do that. i urge my colleagues to support this amendment which helps ensure that the funds in this bill address current needs rather than supporting a new round of brac. i would like to thank my colleague, representative barber, for offering this amendment with me and thank the chairman and members of the subcommittee for working with me on this important issue. i thank you and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from arizona rise? the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. barber: thank you, mr. chairman, and i want to thank my colleague for co-sponsoring this important bipartisan amendment. congressman runyan understands i think very well that we have to
have a commitment to make sure that we do the right thing by our military and we are in difficult times, no question we are in times when the budgets are constrained, but as we draw down our forces from war in afghanistan and shift our strategic focus to the specific, reducing active-duty personnel and equipment across the services there is no doubt we must reevaluate in terms of the department of defense infrastructure. however, this does not mean we should take on another round of brac. our military installations across the nation have profound impact on the families and the communities that support these installations in my district, for example, we have two installations. both the communities of tucson and sierra vista have storied histories that go back over eight decades in support of of these installations and have become linked with the base and
the cities growing and prospering together. mr. chairman, while sequestration and the current fiscal outlook demand we make prudent decisions about spending, now is not the time of another costly round of brac. the 2005 round of brac cost our taxpayers money and we have yet to see any savings from it. doesn't seem prudent to start another one while we are still looking for savings. our military communities including those in southern arizona cannot afford the uncertainty of another round of brac. i thank congressman runyan for his leadership on this issue and i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this important amendment. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from new jersey. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the
ayes have it and the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from colorado seek recognition? mr. perlmutter: i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. perlmutter: i rise today to talk about an issue that is important to veterans in colorado and the rocky mountain west. the new stand-alone hospital u.s. department of v.a. replacement medical center in aurora, colorado. this hospital has been one of my top priorities for seven years when i arived in congress. this hospital has been promised for 15 to almost 20 years. the project has gone through a number of iterations under two presidents and four secretaries of the v.a. once completed this facility will serve hundreds of thousands of veterans. 182-bed facility will include
medical, laboratory, research and counseling services, 30-bed spinal chord injury unit and ptsd rehabilitation clinic. the hospital is well under way, but unfortunately the v.a. is involved in an ongoing contract dispute with the prime contractor, putting the cost and schedule of completing this project in jeopardy. at the heart of the dispute is the cost of the final design with very few approved and paid orders. the original design called for an approximately $1.1 billion state of the art medical center, congress authorized $800 million for acquisition of land and design and construction. the original design appears to not have significantly changed and consequently a funding gap exists between the amount and the overall cost of the project.
this contract dispute will be eard next month. i am working constantly with the v.a. and other members of the colorado congressional delegation to improve the construction process of this medical center and finish the project. unfortunately, it is becoming clear to me that the v.a. and congress have underestimated the cost to build this facility and in the coming months we will be asking for additional appropriations. i'm not happy about this, but we have promised this hospital to our veterans for more than a decade and we must finish the facility. i want to thank chairman culberson and ranking member bishop for continuing a dialogue with our delegation and the v.a. to ensure we will have the resources necessary to finish this hospital as quickly as possible. i want to talk today about an important issue facing our veterans returning home. during the iraq and afghanistan
wars, we saw dramatic increase in traumatic brain injuries among our veterans. one of the common neurological disorders is the development of epilepsy. data from prior wars indicate as many as 50% of the individuals experiencing penetrating brain trauma will develop epilepsy. i worked with senator murray and the bush administration in 2008 to accomplish epilepsy centers of excellence within the v. ampt a. health administration. these centers have done an excellent job in dealing with people in our veteran community who have developed seizure disorders. the v.a. has 16 centers across the country creating a national network to treat and diagnose knows veterans. they need to be fully funded and i ask the committee continue to work with the v.a. to make sure the funding for those 16 centers continues unabated. with that, i yield back and
thank the chairman for the time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from arizona rise? >> i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. schweikert: we are moving on a bit. may i request of the chairman or the gentleman from texas, would he enter into a quick colloquy with me? we attached the rothfus amendment and the amendment i was going to be offering in a couple of moments probably would be duplicative. but i want to make a specific point. we had a series of amendments and discussions in regards to bonuses for v.a. leadership. and our frustrations and our concerns particularly when we look at previous g.a.o. reports the data matrix and that the bonuses are based on, this year, the report says, may be very inaccurate.
if the performance bonuses continue to exist, mr. chairman, would you be willing to work with someone like me and my office in trying to find a better way because my fear is right now the way it's designed, we incentivize playing games with the wait time. the world works on incentives and disincentives, can we work together to come up with a better medthoddoling to incentivize good acts and we are moving towards, shall we say a proper analysis of the outcomes and therefore, we reward those? mr. culberson: of course. i will work with you and your office. mr. schweikert: that's all i wanted to accomplish here. the chair: the gentleman yields ack the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from california rise? mr. takano: i have an amendment at the desk.
the clerk: -- the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. can the gentleman please submit his amendment to the desk. the clerk does not have a copy of it. mr. takano: i did give five copies before. the chair: the clerk will report. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. takano of california. insert the following, section, none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this act for an all-volunteer force educational assistance
program under chapter 30, title 38 united states code with a post 9/11 educational assistance program under chapter 3 of such title and provided to an institution of higher education as defined in section 102 of the higher education act of 1965, 20 u.s.c. 1002 may be used for recruiting or marketing activities. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from texas rise? mr. culberson: i reserve a point of order on the amendment. the chair: the point of order is reserved. the gentleman from california is recognized for five minutes. mr. takano: my amendment would prevent federal student aid for veterans including post-9/11 g.i. bill benefits being used by colleges and universities for marketing purposes. many for-profits use more than 2 % of their revenue on marketing and revenue but less than 18% on
academic instruction. many of these schools receive 80% of their revenue from federal student aid including post-9/11 g.i. benefits and other education benefits. a lot of veterans education assistance and taxpayer money going to for-profit schools to market to and recruit students. and it has been well documented that some of these schools use overly deceptive and fraud lept practices to get students to attend their schools. 38 state attorneys general, the s.e.c., fdic are all investigating the practices of for-prove colleges. we need to address the abuse of veterans and taxpayer dollars. i urge you to support my amendment and yield become the balance of my time. the chair: for what purpose does -- the gentleman from texas is rising? mr. culberson: it proposes to change existing law and constitutes legislation in an appropriations law in violation
of rule 2, an amendment to a general appropriation bill shall not be in order if it changes existing law. this amendment requires a new determination and i would ask for a ruling from the chair. the chair: does anyone else wish to speak on the point of order? if not, the chair is prepared to rule. in pertinent part, the amendment restricts fund for marketing activities absent a showing of definition the amendment would require a federal official to define what activities constitute marketing activities, such a requirement constitutes a new duty in violation of clause 2, rule 21. the point of order is sustained and the amendment is not in order. . for what purpose does the gentleman from arizona rise? >> i have my first amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. gosar of arizona. at the end of the bill, before
the short title, insert the following. section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to create or maintain any patient record keeping system other than those currently approved by the department of veterans affairs' central office in washington, d.c. the chair: the gentleman from arizona is recognized for five minutes. mr. gosar: thank you, mr. chairman. i rise today to stand with veterans throughout the country and offer a simple amendment that seeks to prohibit funds in this bill from being used to create or maintain any and official record keeping system at the department of veterans affairs. as many of you know, numerous news reports have surfaced that assert that the phoenix veterans affairs health care system has been using secondary unofficial records of veterans' claims and appointment requests. these allegations claim that the reasoning behind these actions was to misrepresent the actual wait times the veterans faced as they sought health care. a whistleblower has come forward and alleged that the facility was taking the vets' application information,
transscribing that information to an unofficial shared document, and only putting veterans' information request into the real system when they knew that the veterans were likely to receive an appointment within a two-week time frame. if true on paper, the v.a. central office here in washington would be under the impression that the wait time goals for appointments were being met. but according to reports, veterans were waiting for months and months on end. the house veterans' affairs committee is cunthing an investigation into the matter and so far -- is conducting an investigation into the matter and said as many as 40 veterans suffered and died while waiting for appointments. their investigation is ongoing and they fear there could be many more deaths as a result of this negligence. i would like to thank the full committee chairman, chairman miller, and oversight and investigation subcommittee chairman coffman for their efforts on this front. the inspector general's office at the v.a. is also conducting investigations into these allegations. it is my hope that we get to the full truth soon and that those responsible are held
accountable. depending on the findings, criminal charges may even be in order. but in the meantime, my goal is to ensure that such record keeping practices are not allowed to take place. i have said this before, it is sad that we have to legislate in this way. but when government bureaucrats don't use good judgment and common sense, regulations and laws must be changed to prevent bad behavior. no matter what the investigation shows, no matter who was involved, this practice must be prevented in the future. my amendment seeks to do just that. only the official systems approved by the veterans administration central office should be used. this way we have oversight, accountability and uniformity. it is my hope that one day we also have a little more efficiency into these processes. thank you for considering -- consideration and i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the passage of my commonsense amendment and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. seeing no additional speakers, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from arizona.
those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from florida rise? >> mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. grayson of florida. at the end of the bill, before the short title, add the following new section. section -- mr. grayson: i ask unanimous consent that it be considered as read. the chair: without objection, so ordered. the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. grayson: mr. chairman, this amendment is identical to language that was inserted by voice vote into the bill last year, as well as every other appropriations bill that was considered by an open rule. this amendment would expand the list of wrong doing parties with whom the federal government is prohibited from contracting. that list should include contractors who have been convicted of fraud, who have violated federal or state antitrust laws, who have been convicted of embezzlement,
theft, forgery, bribery, violation of federal tax laws and other items outlined in section -- outlined in the section of title 48 of the code of federal regulations. these are all offenses which any contractor doing business with the federal government must disclose to the contracting officer in every offer. oddly enough, however, without this amendment, the contracting officer is then free to ignore these transgressions and award contracts to the offending person. the i commend the offers of -- authors of this bill for the inclusions of the section which are relevant to this issue but i submit however that we can improve this bill by prohibiting agencies from contracting with those entities who have engaged in the criminal and fraudulent activities that i described. it was my hope that this amendment -- it is my hope that this amendment will be noncontroversial, as it was last year, and again be passed unanimously by voice vote, by the house. i yield back the balance of my time.
the chair: seeing no additional speakers, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from florida. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from arizona rise? >> mr. chairman, i have an amendment, number 2, at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. gosar of arizona. at the end of the bill, before the short title, insert the following. section, the amounts otherwise provided by this act are revised by reducing the amount made available for department of veterans affairs departmental administration, general administration and increasing the amount made available for department of veterans affairs departmental administration, information technology systems, by $3,215,910. the chair: the gentleman from arizona is recognized for five minutes. grows grows -- mr. gosar: thank you, mr. chairman. i rise today to offer an amendment that seeks to redirect funds that would otherwise be spent on
department of veterans affairs bureaucrats and administrative expenses and puts those moneys toward timely service for our veterans. although this amendment is a dollar-for-dollar transfer within this bill, which will result in a neutral impact on the bill's budget authority, the amendment will actually decrease budget outlays for 2015 by $1 million. according to the nonpartisan congressional budget office. the general administration account for the department of veterans affairs is funded at $321,591,000. funds into this account can be spent on things that have nothing to do with administrating critical services for our veterans. examples include things like receptions, conferences, uniforms and excessive travel for bureaucrats. it is no secret that the v.a., like other federal agencies, such as the g.s.a. and the i.r.s., has in recent years abused the trust of the american people by spending exorbitant amounts of money on conferences and travel expenses. i think we all know that the
v.a. has its share of problems in the past few years. meanwhile, wait times for claims processing and appeal processing are horrendous. most recently, a report put forth by the v.a. indicates there are more than 600,000 veterans' claims pending with the v.a. even more troubling is the fact that 319,363 claims have been pending for more than 125 days. many of our veterans are simply giving up. they're either giving up or trying to obtain the benefits they deserve, or worse, some of them are giving up on life altogether. it is a traffic esty and this appalling trend must be reversed. it is disheartening to me that such wasteful spending occurs while veterans are crying out for help. it is stressing that it occurs while veterans are taking their own lives. and it is truly disturbing that it occurs when we have veterans dying as they wait for care. i appreciate the committee's hard work and its acknowledgment of the importance of reducing the backlog in this bill. having said that, i think we
can do more and should focus on prioritizing funds -- funding for efforts that will lead to timelier care for our nation's heroes, as opposed to administrative expenses. that is why i propose redirecting a mere 1% of the funds in the general administration account away from the things like funding for conference expenses and bureaucrats and shifting those funds toward reducing the v.a. backlog. it is unfair to say that all v.a. employees and officials have abused the trust of the american people and the veterans that they meant to serve. there are many within this department who work tirelessly to get through their claims and streamline processes to those people i -- and to those people i say thank you. but our veterans and american taxpayers are not pleased with the overall production level at the v.a. it is time to act and remember the mission at hand, serving our veterans who have given so much for this nation. i urge members to support this amendment and with that i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields
back the balance of his time. seeing no additional speakers, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from arizona. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it, the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentlelady from texas rise? ms. jackson lee: mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the clerk: amendment offered by ms. jackson lee of texas. at the end of the bill, before the short title, insert the following. section, none of the funds made available by this act for benefits for homeless veterans and training and outreach programs may be used by the secretary of veterans affairs in contra invention of subchapter 3, of chapter 20 of title 38, united states code. the chair: the gentlewoman is recognized for five minutes. ms. jackson lee: i thank the chairman. i also want to thank mr. culberson, mr. bishop for doing an outstanding job as they have done and make a bipartisan
statement. that as the first bill of the appropriations season comes forward, we stand in solidarity against veterans waiting, against veterans claims not being pro-- veterans' claims not being processed and against veterans dying because they have not been treated. i don't think any member of congress would adhere to that kind of abuse of our veterans. and i hope that we find solutions in a bipartisan way. i also believe the administration and secretary of veterans affairs, a military retiree himself, would stand in solidarity to stop this kind of treatment of our veterans. one of the groups that we have a solidarity and commitment to are the nation's homeless veterans. we know that there are over 100,000 homeless veterans and 1,000-plus homeless veterans in houston, texas. my amendment reinforces and reaffirms our commitment in looking to ensure that funds
are not cut in subchapter 3, dealing with homeless matters, enhancement of comprehensive services. in particular, hospital, nursing home and domicile care which used to be only for homeless veterans who were suffering from mental health issues now access to -- are accessed to all veterans. the jackson lee amendment is here to ensure that reducing and eliminating homelessness among veterans is a paramount responsibility and commitment. to those who risk their lives, protect our freedom. my amendment will remind us to of our obligation to provide the veterans of the assistance needed to avoid homelessness which includes adequately funding for programs that provides case manager services, adequate housing facilities, mental health support and address other areas that contribute to veterans' homelessness, such as the homeless matters comprehensive services.
our veterans deserve the best services available and i believe we can do much for them. i know that in this particular appropriations bill, there has been a standard of excellence to put our veterans first. many other veterans are considered near homeless or at risk because of their poverty, lack of support from family and friends and dismal living conditions. so that means that the number of 107,000 goes up. contrary to belief, ending homelessness among veterans remains a big challenge. my own city of houston has its own share of homelessness. let me take note of the homeless centers in my community. salvation army, joshua house for men, magnificent house, modest family health care, open door mission, salvation army, harbor life, of which i participate in their thanksgiving ceremonies or thanksgiving dinner almost every year that i've served in the united states congress. stir of hope, ultimate changes, and my good friend, mr. jones, who is on lions avenue who has a facility that opens its doors
to anyone who will knock. a man who needs the resources that have been cut over the years. so my amendment is to reinforce that as this bill is passed, we will ensure that the provisions given to us under title 3, section 301, that emphasizes the utilization of facilities for veterans who happen to be homeless, all veterans would not be diminished. that is at least our minimal responsibility, minimal responsibility, but as we 'approach this memorial day where we honor -- but as we approach this memorial day where we honor those two have lost their lives, let's not leave their brothers and sisters along the highway of despair. with that i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman reserves the balance of her time. the gentlewoman will yield back er time. ms. jackson lee: thank you, mr. chairman. let me then conclude my remarks, i thought i had the opportunity to do that, but i
know that's not in the appropriations process, but let me indicate that on a personal note, as a member of the local many government, for years i used to participate in the standdown, where you got to talk and interact with our veterans. i can tell you and you can tell us, all of us, the firsthand experience, our veterans welcome our help, need our help, for they have helped this nation. i yield back. the chair: the gentlewoman's ime has expired. ties there further debate? the question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from texas. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas rise? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the clerk: amendment offered by farenthold of texas.
and with respect to whom the president of the senate or the speaker of the house of representatives has certified a statement of facts to a united states attorney under section 104 of the revised statutes, 2 u.s.c. 194. mr. bishop: i would like to reserve a point of order. the chair: the point of order is reserved. the gentleman from texas is recognized for five minutes. mr. farenthold: this amendment actually implements what i have proposed in h.r. 4447 that any employee of the federal government, in this case, we are limiting it to what the subject of this appropriation bill not be paid if they have been held in contempt of congress. we have seen unfortunately that
even though we have held eric holder in contempt of congress, the justice department has failed to pursue that. and we are delayed on the civil contempt in the court system. what we are trying to do -- what i'm trying to do is put a little teeth into contempt of congress using the power of the purse. constitution gives this body the power to decide how the federal government spends its money and if someone is in contempt of this body, they should not be paid. if you are contempt of your employer in the private sector, most likely, you will be unemployed and not get your paycheck. i intend to offer this amendment for all the appropriations bills as a way to possibly get it through the senate where nothing is happening. what is critically important is we do it in the rett veterans affairs appropriations bill because as we investigate the horrifying allegations of secret
waiting lists and folks dying because they're not getting timely treatment in the v.a., there's certainly going to be a congressional delegation and we need all the tools in our tool chest to get to the bottom of this and make sure people testify. we have seen time and time again here various investigations -- lois lerner. and the contempt power and putting teeth into it is one way to do it. i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this commonsense amendment that doesn't pay people who don't cooperate with congress. we have the power of the purse. we need to use it and we may need to use it for the department of veterans affairs as a result of some of the things they appear to be up to. i would yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from georgia is recognized to speak in support of his point of order. mr. bishop: i make a point of
order against the amendment because it proposes to change existing law and constitutes legislation in an appropriations bill and therefore violates clause 2 of rule 21. rule states in pertinent part, an amendment to a general appropriations bill shall not be in order if changing existing law imposes additional duties, requires a new determination. i ask for a ruling from the chair. the chair: any other member wish to be heard on the point of order? >> i would like to address the point of order. mr. farenthold: it's my belief it puts no other duty on anyone of someone being found in contempt of congress is something that is widely publicized and as people charged knowing with what the law is, it seems common sense that the department of veterans affairs that had a member subject to
contempt would know that that person is in contempt. we aren't anybody to do anything else other than not pay somebody who is in contempt of congress. the chair: the chair's prepared to rule. the chair finds that this amendment imposes new duties on the department of veterans affairs to track the status of certain certifications. the amendment therefore constitutes legislation in violation of clause 2, rule 21. the point of order is sustained and the amendment is not in order. for what purpose does the gentleman from michigan seek recognition? >> i rise to strike the last word and offer an amendment. the chair: does the gentleman seek to offer an amendment? >> that's correct. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. peters of michigan, at the end of the bill insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used for a contract that includes first-class travel by
the contractor. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. peters: as of monday, there were 596,061 veterans waiting for claims to be processed by the veterans administration. more than half of these claims has been pending for more than 125 days. this is outrageous and simply unacceptable. we are failing our veterans who put their lives on the line for this nation and rely on services at the v.a. for their health care and other benefits upon retirement. as a former lieutenant commander in the u.s. army reserve i'm trying to eliminate the backlog. the men and women who served their country honorly, they deserve so much better. in my district, 49% of claims have been pending for more than 125 days. while this number may seem high, it is lower than the combined
national average for 53% of claims have been pending for more than 125 days. it is unacceptable as hundreds of thousands of veterans wait for months to have their essential benefits processed, government contractors are able to use taxpayer dollars to purchase first-class travel. there is no way to justify spending on luxury travel for contractors, while the v.a. is dealing with a months' long backlog. i'm putting forward a simple amendment barring funds to be spent on first-class travel. this amendment sends an important message that congress, the administration and contractors are accountable to american taxpayers. this amendment is about making efficient use of taxpayer dollars and reducing wasteful government spending. federal contractors should not be using federal tax dollars on first-class flights. support this commonsense
amendment and send a strong message to them about priorities we work on behalf of them here in washington. please support this amendment which will bring further accountability and fiscal sensibility to our government. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. additional speakers? the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from michigan. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from california rise? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: at the end of the bill before the short title insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used for the closure or abandonment of any facility located at the base field in azores, portugal.
mr. nunes: i thank the chairman and ranking member for their support of this amendment. and i will be very quick here. this is a base very important location for us in the middle of the atlantic. over the last decade we invested about $150 million into the infrastructure there. now the air force is talking about actually tearing down facilities there and starting to spend money to tear it down. this doesn't make a lot of sense to me nor does it to the congress, because last congress, both in the a.a. and in the defense appropriations bills, the congress said very specifically that this was a facility that needed to be used and that the military needed to figure out a use for it and were not to draw down the forces there. instead, they continue -- the air force continues to ignore the congress, so much so they want to use funds to tear down
facilities. this is a complete rejection of, i think congress' prerogative and intent of the laws from last year and now we have to go into the military construction bills to make sure we hold people accountable. and this is just a place holder because when you start to look at the money that's been spent over the last 10 years, $150 million, if this is something that the air force didn't want, then i think it's time to ask for the g.a.o. to come in and study who really did the planning to spend the $150 million in the first place and possibly an i.g. investigation. so i look forward to working with the chairman and ranking member. and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from california yields back. seeing no additional speakers, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from california. those in favor say aye.
those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. the chair: for what purpose does the gentlewoman from from indiana rise? mrs. walorski: i have an amendment at the desk. the clerk: amendment offered by mrs. walorski of indiana. section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used by the secretary of veterans affairs to implement sole-source contracting at the national level for the selection of devices and test strips for he monitor of blood glucose. the chair: the the gentlewoman from from indiana is recognized for five minutes. mrs. walorski: thank you for your assistance in this amendment. i rise today to protect veterans of diabetesees. this -- diabetes.
will offer glue cost monitoring supplies. mr. chairman, almost 25% of veterans in the v.a. health care system have diabetes compared to 8.3% of the general public. as a result, diabetes care places a significant cost burden on the v.a.'s budget accounting for 4% of the overall health care budget and costing $1.5 billion annually. presently each of the 21 networks competitively bids for monitoring devices and test strips. this competition is good for the patient and good for the marketplace. allowing the v.a. to utilize significant purchasing power. because of the competition and the competition in the non-v.a. market, they are pushing cost. they rely on the patient to be a partner. therefore, it's critical for patients and caregivers to be comfortable with the devices they use so they can best
monitor the disease resulting in better health outcomes. as a member of the v.a. committee, i learned recently that the department of veterans affairs is actively considering a national contract with the single provider for diabetic supplies. while this may sound like a good idea, both the house and the senate under the leadership of both democrats and republicans have consistently agreed this is not prudent. sole-sourcing could dramatically increase costs and deny patients the ability to use the devices they are most comfortable with. the cost to re-educate and retrain patients and caregivers throughout the entire population would be significant. finally because of the size of the diabetic population a sole-source contract would reduce innovation. i urge my colleagues to support passage of this commonsense amendment and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman yields back.
question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from indiana. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from south dakota seek recognition? mrs. noem: i have an amendment at the desk. the clerk: amendment offered by mrs. noem of south dakota. at the end of the bill before the short title insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to prepare an environmental impact statement in accordance with the national environmental policy act of 1969, 42 u.s.c. 4321 with respect to a health care facility that is one, designated as a national historic landmark by the national park service and two, located in a highly rural area. the chair: the gentlelady from south dakota is recognized for five minutes. mrs. noem: the department of
veterans affairs manages thousands of historically-significant properties and according to a recently released study and report by the national trust and historic preservation, the v.a. has a track record for neglecting these national interests and by neglecting these properties, veterans have suffered by creating obstacles so veterans can't gain access to health care and they have to travel many hours for a simple checkup. my amendment is simple and straightforward and provides access to health care by ensuring no funds will go to closing rural hospitals in areas that are designated as national historic landmarks. reports have shown that the v.a. needs to pay attention to the national landmarks and focus on the veterans that these facilities serve. i urge my colleagues to support this commonsense amendment. i thank the chairman, ranking member and staff and i ask for your support. i yieac